By Jonathan L’Ecuyer

Hampton Union, Friday, August 6, 2004

Retired Deputy Chief Dennis Pelletier stands with Hampton officers Joe Jones and Tim Hamlen and horses Buddy and Sam. Pelletier helped to start the Hampton mounted patrol in 1981 and takes care of the police horses when they retire at his Epping farm.
[Photo by Sarah Zenewicz]

HAMPTON – It is no surprise that now-retired Hampton Deputy Chief Dennis Pelletier was the driving force behind bringing the Mounted Patrol unit to Hampton Beach.

Pelletier started riding horses when he was 4, and his fondness for the majestic animals has never waned.

Today, he owns a horse farm in Epping where he has been taking care of retiring Mounted Patrol unit horses as well as three of his own.

Pelletier retired from the force in 1995 with more than 23 years of service to his credit.

As part of an agreement with the Hampton Police Department, all the unit’s retiring horses would be given to him after his retirement.

“I told them when it comes time to retire these guys (horses) out that I would take them free of charge and give them a good home,” Pelletier said. “They are family to me.”

One such horse was named Peacock.

Two years ago, Peacock retired from the force. He lived on Pelletier’s farm until Sunday, July 25.

Pelletier said Peacock had developed colic and died from the disease. Peacock was 25 years old.

A disease usually affecting children, colic attacks the horse’s stomach and intestines, which results in the animal’s condition quickly deteriorating.

Pelletier said a veterinarian from the Rochester Equine Clinic made a house call to the farm to treat Peacock, but the horse never responded to treatment.

The decision was finally made to bring Peacock to the clinic.

It was there that the decision was made to put Peacock down.

“He lived a good life,” Pelletier said, “but it wasn’t beneficial to keep him alive anymore.”

Peacock was the fourth retired police horse that Pelletier has had to bury in five years.

Pelletier has since bought a grave marker for the horse. Peacock is buried at the clinic.

Peacock wasn’t just any Mounted Patrol horse, he was an award-winning horse who left behind an impressive career at the beach.

Pelletier spoke about Peacock’s career with a father’s pride.

“Peacock had a very good career,” he said. “He was a great and tough police horse.”

Peacock’s full name was “Peacock Bay Man.”

Pelletier said that in the late 1980s, Peacock won first place in a competition for the best-trained police horse in New England.

Peacock faced some frightening experiences in his career, but none more frightening than the night he was on fire.

Pelletier said that a man arrested and then released on bail one night decided to light Peacock’s tail on fire after he left the police station.

Luckily for Peacock, a motorcycle unit officer drove by and put the horse’s tail out by hand.

Pelletier said if it weren’t for the officer’s quick actions, the horse probably would’ve died.

The man who committed the deed was later sent to jail for cruelty to animals.

Pelletier has no retired Hampton Police horses inhabiting his farm, but he is still very involved with the unit he helped create.

He helps the department select new horses to add to the unit and also trains them free of charge.

“I am a strong believer in horse police units,” Pelletier said. “It’s a worthwhile concept and an economic way to control crowds.

Pelletier went on to say that the men “have a lot of positive spirit, I know every one of them and they are good guys.”

Next time you are at Hampton Beach and see the almost statuesque pair of officers sitting atop their horse partners, don’t hesitate to say hello.